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IL Legislative Dir., Robert W. Guy
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Joseph C. Szabo-- State Director:

SzaboA fifth-generation railroader whose ancestors worked for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Wabash and Illinois Central Railroads, Joe Szabo has always been driven by two passions—railroading and public service.

It’s hard to say which came first. Szabo hired out with the Illinois Central in 1976, where he worked as a yard switchman, road trainman and commuter passenger conductor. He became an employee of Metra when IC sold its Commuter Division in 1987.

But well before joining the railroad—while still in high school—Szabo assisted his father, a 40-year IC switchman and 14-year union officer, with his bookkeeping work as secretary/treasurer of UTU Local 1299.

By 1984, he was following in his father's footsteps, winning election as secretary/treasurer of UTU Local 1290. Szabo later progressed to become Local 1290’s Delegate, and Legislative Representative, eventually winning election as Vice Chairman of the UTU Illinois Legislative Board in 1991.In February 1996 he was elected State Director of the UTU Illinois Legislative Board. Since then he has been re-elected by acclamation three times: in 2000, 2004 and 2008. In October 2006 he was appointed a vice president of the Illinois AFL-CIO and in October 2008 was elected to a full four-year term.

Parallel with his union work, for more than twenty years Szabo was active in local government in the Chicago suburb of Riverdale, eventually serving as mayor.

Szabo earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Labor Relations from Governors State University in 1990. Combining his skills in railroading, union work and public service, he served as a member of the South Suburban Mayors Transportation Committee and Vice Chairman of the Chicago Area Transportation Study’s Executive Committee. Following the 2002 gubernatorial election he co-chaired the Freight Rail Sub-Committee of Governor Rod Blagojevich’s Transition Team. Since 2005, Szabo has been assigned by the UTU International to the Federal Railroad Administration's Rail Safety Advisory Committee, where he participates in the drafting of rail-safety regulations.

Szabo continues to serve in a variety of positions helping decision makers in state government shape a transportation and economic-development vision for Illinois. He held an advisory position on the State of Illinois Growth Task Force, and continues to serve on the Executive Council of Metropolis 2020, as a member of Business Leaders for Transportation, and as a member of the legislative advisory committee for the Metropolitan Planning Council.

Since January 15, 2009, Szabo has been on interim assignment to UTU's National Legislative Office in Washington, serving as Alternate National Legislative Director.

Joe lives by a conviction that working people can improve their lives by becoming involved in the political process, influencing the election of public officials and helping to shape public policy. The union is the tool that gives them the power to change their lives for the better. And politics is the tool the union uses to make change happen.


126 N. Scott Street, Joliet, IL. 60432
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